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Riverside House is a beautiful and ecologically diverse site in Stourbridge which runs alongside Stourbridge canal. Riverside House is in the process of transforming the 19th century ironworks area into a heritage centre with gardens, a restaurant, crafts shop, woodland and workshops but also a place where people feel included and bespoke opportunities are provided.
Much of this work is now well underway. Our capacity building team at Dudley CVS initially helped Riverside Stourbridge to get set up as a CIC, supported them with planning, building their vision and securing funding and it is fantastic to see the progress being made. The project works with a wide range of individuals from diverse backgrounds and supports them to learn new practical skills through the conservation and preservation of the estate.
In the winter of 2020, Clare and Lloyd at Riverside Stourbridge CIC applied for funding from our voluntary sector social prescribing fund. The fund makes it possible for new activities and services to be set up and delivered to meet the needs of our Integrated Plus High Intensity User social prescribing clients, who frequently attend A&E or call 999. Their application was successful and they’re now delivering three different workshops including copper & willow weaving, blacksmithing and green woodwork.
Ami is a client accessing the High Intensity User social prescribing service, after hearing about the workshops she was keen to try blacksmithing as she enjoys being outdoors and learning new skills. Ami attended the six week course and thoroughly enjoyed every session, she showed her Link Worker how she had made a plaque for her home to hang her keys on and how she has personalised it. Ami was able to recognise within herself how the workshop had built her confidence and helped her overcome her fear of new places.
“I attended the Blacksmithing course at the Riverside House Project and I loved it! Not only did I get expert and friendly tuition in a totally new skill I had never tried before, but the guys shared their vision and dreams for the Riverside House site during the sessions and got me excited for the future of the project. All the volunteers and leaders were friendly and welcoming, always encouraging and helped me feel confident in something I had never done before! Looking forward to joining with more projects and seeing the way the RHP develops and expands in the coming years.” Ami
To find out more about the other fantastic work that Riverside Stourbridge CIC deliver, click here.
To find out more about our voluntary sector social prescribing fund please email email@example.com
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Vulnerable patients are continuing to benefit from the High Intensity User (HIU) project in Dudley, which is now entering its third year.
Year one saw a 33% reduction in A&E attendance and a 41% reduction in inpatient admissions saving the NHS over £492,995. Our second annual evaluation report for year two has seen a 75% reduction in A&E attendances and a 78% reduction in inpatient admissions saving the NHS over £546,540. New data has shown a 66% reduction in West Midlands Ambulance Service call outs with an additional saving of £230,193.
Delivered by the Dudley CVS Integrated Plus social prescribing team and match-funded by Dudley CCG and the Department of Health, the service offers a robust way of reducing avoidable frequent user activity to 999, A&E, and hospital admissions, freeing up front line resources to improve care for all patients and reduce costs.
The two Link Workers have continued to work in a flexible non-clinical way providing tailored support to frequent users of emergency services. The service has benefitted from being able to spot purchase groups, activities and services from our Voluntary Sector Fluid Floating Fund. So far we have been able to commission five different organisations to deliver creative activities, counselling, peer support groups, outdoor learning and housing and benefits support.
In addition to this we have been able to allocate personal health budgets up to the value of £100 per client. This has been a really positive intervention enabling Link Workers to work in a person centred way. Personal health budgets have been used to pay for transport to peer support groups which was previously a barrier and also items such as tablet computers to enable isolated clients to connect with the outside world.
A local service user said, “I needed more than a worker, I needed a friend, someone who could help me get in touch with the outside world, I felt so lonely and isolated. When I first met Kelly I had been in hospital several times, I was suicidal, and had given up, whereas now I enjoy life and am reconnected with friends.”
Another said,“This service has been extremely helpful, from the first visit from Danielle I was put at ease, she listened to me and I truly felt my issues were understood, which in turn enabled her to help me identify new avenues to explore. I am looking forward to starting my new volunteering role and giving something back”
Dudley CVS are delighted with the positive outcomes that the project is achieving. You can read the full evaluation report below:
Vulnerable patients are benefitting from a new High Intensity User (HIU) project in Dudley.
A one year evaluation of the project commissioned by Dudley CCG and Dudley CVS has shown a 33% reduction in A&E attendance and a 41% reduction in inpatient admissions saving the NHS over £492,995.
Delivered by the Dudley CVS Integrated Plus social prescribing team and match-funded by Dudley CCG and the Department of Health, the service offers a robust way of reducing avoidable frequent user activity to 999, A&E, and hospital admissions, freeing up front line resources to improve care for all patients and reduce costs.
Working together with partners, the HIU team uses a flexible and innovative non-clinical approach with the voluntary sector, to target high users of services and support the most vulnerable people within the community to flourish and find purpose in their lives.
This is in line with the Right Care Programme, which is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s focus to better understand the needs of patients who are frequent users of emergency departments. Both will work to improve waiting times and response in emergency departments for those patients with the highest care needs is a priority.
Kelly Rea, (Urgent Care Link Worker), HIU Team said: “It all starts with a phone call, from which I am able to actively listen to understand the needs of patients accessing A&E departments. I like to arrange a face-to-face appointment as soon as possible to gain a better understanding of their situation. On the first visit, I try my best to make it very relaxed to allow them to tell their story.
It’s surprising how many people say after the visit it’s the first time they have been really listened to.
A local service user said, “This service, in my opinion, is vital to help other people from utter despair, I cannot explain in words what this service has done for me.
After another attempt to end it all, I was given a lifeline, introduced to my link worker from Integrated Plus, always at the end of the phone, caring and understanding, non-judgmental who listens to my every need in my recovery. My link worker takes me out for coffee and shopping and has enabled me to laugh again and understand a future without pain. I look forward to her visits helping me to feel normal again”.
Sarah Knight, Commissioning Manager, Dudley CCG, “We are really happy that the service is benefiting people in Dudley, we are always looking at new and innovative ways to meet the needs of our local population, and this is one way we are doing this”.
The programme initiated by NHS Blackpool CCG has also been rolled out in a number of other CCGs across the country.
The full impact report is available to read below:
Grace Community Church, based in Pensnett, is a passionate congregation of people, committed to making their local area a better place to live by responding to the changing needs of the community around them. As a community, they have pulled together using their individual skills and connections to build a vibrant new community space that will become a place where local people can come together, learn new things, and get support.
I recently visited Nigel Rowe, Pastor at Grace Community Church, at their new community building to find out more about their recent asset transfer success and future plans for the building and the local community.
It was in early 2018 when Nigel approached Dudley CVS looking for a community space in the Pensnett area to use as a base for their group’s activities. After an initial discussion about potential buildings they could rent in the area, Becky, Dudley CVS Small Groups Officer, suggested community asset transfer as an option to consider and pointed in the direction of Dudley Council to find out more about potential buildings available in the area.
After a short period of looking around, Nigel found a local building that wasn’t being fully utilized. It had previously been used for a senior citizens club, which only met once or twice a week for bingo. The space had the potential to offer lots more. After expressing an interest in the building, they put together a business plan and worked with Dudley Council to start the asset transfer process. They received the keys in October last year.
Community asset transfer involves the transfer of responsibility for buildings or land from the local authority to a voluntary or community organisation. It presents opportunities to ensure that facilities can continue to be available locally for social, community and public use. The process starts with an expression of interest, followed by a business plan to show community support for the transfer, the kinds of activities that would take place in the building that would benefit the community, and financial sustainability.
Although they found the asset transfer a lengthy process, it gave them some extra time to raise the funds to renovate the building. Roughly £25,000 has been spent on the renovations so far. The Ibstock Enovert Trust, an environmental body that supports community and environmental projects, awarded £15,000 for the project, and the church’s congregation worked hard to raise the rest of the money.
When I visited Nigel at the building, I was amazed to find wonderfully welcoming, bright and spacious rooms, beautifully decorated with modern fixtures and fittings, a vast improvement from the old photos I’d seen of the building. Although not entirely finished, it’s very nearly there, even as I arrived there was somebody busily painting away!
Nigel told me about the incredible support from the local community, how everybody pulled together to make this project happen, not only the congregation but also local businesses that had donated fittings, materials and equipment.
Tiles were donated by a local business doing a renovation job in the area. Electricians, Sunny Electrical, and local plumbing company Gill Mechanical Service offered their skills at a reduced rate. Will Hire from Lye hired out scaffolding and core drills free of charge. Howdens donated a fitted kitchen after hearing about their various food-related projects for local people, including hampers during the winter, and ‘Make Lunch’, providing free school meals to young people and children during the school holidays.
It’s unbelievable to see old photos of how the building looked before the renovation work began:
And today, the incredible transformation – a bright and modern space!
And, the congregation are not just a vibrant and friendly bunch, they themselves are also very ‘handy’ with skills in decorating, painting, plastering and building work. Locally, Grace Community Church has taken on gardening and DIY projects for elderly people that can’t get out of the house, or for people that might be struggling for other reasons. Nigel told me, “It’s surprising how much you need for a renovation project like this that you don’t realise. We’re already using a lot of these skills out in the community, and we’re now using them to complete this project so that we can bring the community in. Local people and businesses just wanted to help because they had heard about all the good things we were planning to do with the space.”
All Nations Church Wolverhampton, their parent church, has also helped and supported the work in the area.
The building is now equipped with everything that is needed for a fully functioning community space. It has a large bright main room for events, a brand new modern kitchen space, toilet facilities and a day/activities room for toddler groups.
The vision for what takes place in the building has been built around what they have learnt from the changing needs of the community around them. They will start with a toddler group to support isolated parents in the area, as since the closure of the local children’s centre there hasn’t been a great provision for parents. Their aim is to ensure that people can drop in at any time, and there will always be someone available in the building to support parents. Nigel added, “It will be a place where answers can be found. We don’t have all the answers, but we can work together to find them”. The Toddler Group meets every Tuesday morning from 9:30am until 11am.
Nigel is also a Chaplain at Crestwood School, offering extra support for young people during lunchtime. This helps them to understand the needs of young people in the area.
The space will be used to run activities with young families, to start youth groups, art clubs, coffee mornings, and in the future, they hope to put on parenting classes, and workshops to support people with managing their finances. There will be summer school meals in the new kitchen and big events during the summer and Christmas time. Currently, they run a music workshop on a Wednesday evening and are looking to expand. People of all ages are welcome to come and use the equipment. They also plan to link up with the local food bank and potentially use the building as a distribution point.
Their aim is to build up better relationships with local people through running groups, classes and events. It’s also about connecting people socially by offering a safe place to meet to get to know other people, with a hope that new friendship groups will blossom.
Nigel tells me, “Isolation affects people of all ages. There is nowhere local to just sit down and have a coffee. We want to have drop-ins so that people can come in and have a friendly face to share a hot drink and a cake with.” Exciting future plans include potentially opening a coffee shop in the building to provide people with a place to meet and do things, also giving local people job opportunities.
Grace Community Church is now focused on getting over the starting line so they can bring exciting new projects and activities to the community. It’s wonderful to see such a transformation, providing the Pensnett community with a place to be for many years to come. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Grace Toddler Group meets every Tuesday morning from 9:30am until 11am. There is also a meeting every Sunday morning from 10:30am for an open and friendly church service with children’s activities and refreshments at the end. All are welcome.
If you would like to find out more about the project contact email@example.com
There are over 6000 people in Dudley who have been diagnosed with COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and most likely many more undiagnosed. COPD might be something you have never even heard of – or might affect you personally, but it is a condition that is supported by the Dudley Airtime group. The group is facilitated by Integrated Plus, a Dudley CVS social prescribing project, have been meeting since 2016 at DY1 Community Building on Stafford Street, where the group is held each Thursday from 1pm. The aim of the group, funded through The Health Foundation, and most recently through Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group and Public Health, is to provide a peer-led group supporting people with respiratory conditions, to reduce social isolation and take pressure off the NHS by reducing hospital admissions and GP surgery appointments that relate to the disease, by providing a safe, caring environment for people to learn how to control and manage their condition better, meet with others experiencing similar challenges, and to take part in enjoyable activities, with lashings of tea and cake of course.
Airtime Dudley has made a particular impact on the life of Angela, who has been attending the group since August 2016. At this time, Angela was feeling increasingly low in mood, had become very isolated, and had no peer groups – in fact she was, in her own words, “bored to tears”.
Angela has made many friends through attending Airtime, and being part of the group has had a wider impact on her, and others. She now supports Airtime through identifying speakers to attend and present to the group. Through Airtime, Angela came into contact with Healthwatch Dudley and gave a talk to The Peoples Network about Airtime. She went on to become a member of The Peoples Network and now supports recruitment within the NHS, and sits on the Voluntary Sector Innovation Fund panel. She was also part of a team tasked with simplifying Dudley Safeguarding online process. Angela keeps a portfolio of all the work she does with Dudley Healthwatch and The Peoples Network, and explained that ‘I would never have been connected with the if it wasn’t for Airtime’
Angela has also gone on to support the creation of a general social group – ‘Friday Friends’, and has supported people with other conditions, such as ME, to make friends and connect. She has even completed a sponsored walk for The Lung Foundation, raising £100. Angela also has begun to meet some new friend’s she has made at a local social club.
Along with some other members of the Airtime Group, Angela worked on simplifying information for Dudley Council employees. A large book, detailing many long term health conditions and illnesses. These are now condensed to a simple A4 handout, giving a brief explanation of each condition or illness.
Through Winter Warmth attending Airtime to give a talk on their services, Angela has had a new boiler installed at home, as well as a wet room and stair lift installed into her property after Winter Warmth put her in contact with Dudley Home Improvement Service.
Angela has kept a portfolio of all the work she has been involved in with the council and Healthwatch Dudley, and is very proud of the changes she has helped to implement. Angela said that she would never have been in a position to be asked to do this work without being a member of Airtime. It was due to Airtime that those connections were made and cultivated.
The Airtime project was evaluated by Coventry University, who has produced a short video on their findings, in which Angela, and other members of the group feature below.
Angela feels coming to the group have transformed her life. ‘Airtime has given me quality of life, has built my confidence and I have made lots of good friends. We’re not labelled at no good, not fit for anything…I’ve had a new lease of life.
Airtime Dudley is free and runs each Thursday from 1pm – 3pm at DY1 Community Building, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1RT and is open to anyone suffering with a chronic ling conditions such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or bronchiectasis.
Friday Friends is also based at the DY1 Community Building, and runs on the second and last Friday of each month from 1pm – 3pm. A small charge of £1 is asked to cover refreshments and is open to the general public looking to meet with others and socialise.
New members are welcome, and for any further information please feel free to contact Terry Gee on 01384 217056
In 2014 Dudley CVS began a journey to support parent carers across the borough to have a voice, influence decisions and collaborate with professionals to ensure that services improve for children and young people with disabilities and their families.
I can honestly say that this has been one of the most joyful, humbling and enlightening aspects of my work. It is a privilege to work alongside parent carers, their passion, energy and honesty knows no bounds. They are so committed to working with professionals so that together they can figure out how to make things better, look at what’s working well and also be honest about what’s not working so well.
Over the four years through Working Together for Change – Dudley Parent Carer Forum parent carers have given over 1,704 hours of their precious time to influence decisions that effect so many lives.
In 2017/18 parent carers through the forum have attended over 32 strategic meetings where they have been heard and collaborated with senior decision makers. Once again we have built on the success of previous years and increased our reach with over 2,182 views on our website, 240 followers on twitter and 169 followers on Facebook.
None of this would have been possible without the support of the forum parent carers especially the steering group who have been there from the start and are still hanging in! They inspire me every time I have the privilege to be in their company.
Any parent carer within Dudley borough can become a forum member. Its free to join and you can become a member on your terms, so you could opt to just receive information, or you can get involved in consultations, join a task and finish group or represent the forum locally or regionally.
More information about Dudley Parent Carer Forum and our annual report can be found here or you can give Donna a call on 01384 573381
Organisations in the voluntary, community and faith sector have, over many years, carried out essential and important work helping people who are vulnerable, disadvantaged, lonely and unable to access services for a variety of reasons. As a consequence of what they do they are able to apply for grants from a variety of funding bodies such as trusts/foundations (e.g. Lloyds Bank Foundation, Henry Smith Charity and Garfield Weston Foundation) as well as national funders such as BBC Children in Need and the Big Lottery.
In these times of austerity and poverty the role of charitable organisations in society and communities has increased massively however many of them have experienced funding cuts and, as a result, there has been a massive strain on their resources affecting their ability to support vulnerable people to the extent that they used to.
So what are the options facing these organisations? Some have fallen by the wayside and no longer exist. Others continue providing services, activities and projects however at a much reduced rate with many reporting growing waiting lists. At Dudley CVS we provide funding support through identifying potential funders that may be able to help as well as working with organisations when they make applications to funders.
Grant funding is more important than ever. And it’s not always just about submitting an application. There are many things to consider before starting to work on a funding application. The most important thing is to plan what you want to do and then consider the aim or aims of funders you are considering approaching. Ensure your aims and what you want to do closely match the funder’s requirements. Beware “MISSION DRIFT” – don’t let what you do or want to do be influenced by what funders want.
There are plenty of funding opportunities so do the research. At DCVS we can identify which funders to apply to so long as we have the information on which to base our research. Once we have details of the intended project, what you want the money for (such as revenue costs including salaries, project costs, capital for equipment/buildings etc.), how much you want and for how long we can provide details of potential funders.
Having obtained these details then carry out more investigation by looking at the websites (if applicable) and/or speak to the funders explaining what you want the grant for. By speaking to a funder can save a lot of time if they tell you straight away not to bother applying. Conversely they may be very interested which gives you the confidence to make an application to them.
Always start either a discussion with a funder or an application request by providing background information about the organisation/project alongside a summary of your funding requirements. This should be brief and to the point with sufficient information to attract their interest. If they are “turned off” early on by too much detail/information they may not read the rest of the application which might be for some excellent work that would justify support. The secret is to “hook the funder” early on.
There are a variety of things a funder will want to know when you submit an application and if there is a form that needs completing then the questions will be supplied on the form. Always answer the questions accurately – don’t provide information you want to say or you think they want to know. Follow their guidelines very carefully and if they provide “prompts” on the application form make sure you cover each one as suggested. If any of these prompts are not applicable then explain why. However if you find that too many are not applicable then you may need to consider whether they are an appropriate funder to approach.
The key areas of a funding application are:
- Need identified for the project or piece of work you want funded. Outline the issues/problems and evidence. Clearly explain what these issues are and how you know. Evidence is critical and can be results and/or successes of existing/previous work, consultation with beneficiaries/stakeholders/interested parties and research (local or national). Many applications fail because the need hasn’t been identified and evidenced sufficiently.
- Beneficiary details stating who they are (people/individuals, communities, organisations), how many and where they are from.
- Aims and Outcomes – the differences or changes you want to make for your beneficiaries using words of change (such as improve, more, better, increase, reduce, less etc.). Ensure the outcomes address the problems or issues identified and the aim shows what impact you want to make.
- Activities – describe what you will do to meet the needs of your beneficiaries and achieve the outcomes you have planned.
Think of all of this as a journey where you have people (your beneficiaries) with problems or issues in their lives (need for your work or project) and you provide support for them (your activities) so that you can make their lives better (outcomes).
You must have clear, efficient and good monitoring/evaluation procedures in place ensuring the measurement systems capture not only the inputs/outputs data reporting what you do/the activities you provide but also the subsequent results that show how well the beneficiary’s needs have been met through the achievement of successful outcomes. Then, by analysing this information, you can evaluate the impact of your work/project (meeting your aims) and showing the funder their money was well spent. In this way you may be able to approach them again for repeat funding or, if you have an ongoing grant (initially agreed for say 3/5 years), then they may continue supporting you as you are doing what you said you would do in your initial application.
An accurate and detailed budget must be supplied covering either the organisation’s full costs or just the costs of the project depending on what you are requesting. Include within the funding request the amount you want and for how long. Also provide details of other funding towards the cost of your work i.e. from your own resources and/or from other funders if applicable (if you are not asking for 100% funding).
Always consider value for money and the engagement of volunteers in your project or work. Funders like to know that their grant goes a long way to not only help lots of vulnerable people but also trigger other aspects of support via volunteers etc. so even more people are helped. They see this as key in proposals and often work out the value attributed to each person that you engage with by dividing the number of beneficiaries you plan to work with into the anticipated grant. This can, where there are many good applications to consider, swing the decision your way by you showing the funder how far their grant will go.
Enclosures/further information. Provide details of any other information you are sending such as evaluation reports (from previous projects/work), job descriptions (for any salaried posts you are asking to be funded in whole or part), accounts, annual report, publicity leaflets etc. This additional information provides funders with more in depth knowledge of your organisation and good background.
Don’t forget to thank the funder first of all for taking the time to consider your request and (most importantly) afterwards if you are successful. Write a short letter thanking them for agreeing to fund your organisation/project and, if they don’t ask for a formal evaluation of how their money was spent, provide feedback voluntarily sending photos if you feel this would add value.
These “tips” are to help organisations get started. Once you have sorted out your plans and what you want to do then contact DCVS and we will arrange to meet with you to discuss your organisation/project and how to proceed in making strong funding applications getting in money to help you continue your valuable work in supporting disadvantaged/vulnerable people.
The importance of saying thank you to your volunteers
What better way to introduce an article about celebrating and recognising volunteers than to talk about our fabulous main award and highly commended awardees from #dva17? These wonderful volunteers were nominated and recognised for their outstanding commitment, and desire to make a real difference in local communities. We recently had two wonderful celebrations when the Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr Dave Tyler and Barbara, welcomed these exceptional volunteers to the Mayor’s Parlour and Council Chamber. These lucky guests enjoyed a special behind the scenes tour, where they learnt lots of fascinating facts and enjoyed tea with the Mayor and Mayoress.
Volunteers Week a national celebration of all things volunteering
1st to 7th June is an annual celebration of volunteers and volunteering. It’s a great opportunity to do something special for your volunteers to say thank you and take the opportunity to maybe recruit some new volunteers too! So let’s get you thinking about how you will say thanks, celebrating and recognising your volunteers’ contributions.
I think this quote from NCVO’s Quick Guide to Thanking Volunteers will hopefully get you thinking … Saying thank you isn’t just for Volunteers Week, it should be an integral part of your volunteer programme…
“On the surface, saying thanks is easy – we all do it every day without thought, but saying thanks in an organisational context can be a very different prospect. Firstly, it can be easy just to forget if, like many charities, your trustees and leadership team have an ambitious vision, then the pressure is on to always look forward, at the expense of reflection.
Or your charity may be characterised by a rigid hierarchy that doesn’t always encourage positive feedback to be filtered down. Because volunteers don’t get paid, you might think that we should naturally be more inclined to thank them, but it might be just as easy to take their generosity for granted, especially if they have been with you for some time. Perhaps worst of all, though, is the ill-judged thank you – too fleeting, insincere, or undeserved. At best it may fall flat; at worst it can anger and linger. So how, how often, and to whom you demonstrate gratitude should be as integral to your volunteer management strategy as their recruitment, training and retention.”
Why not get thinking about how YOU are going to celebrate your Volunteers
Why say thank you?
There are lots of tools you can use to retain your volunteers once you’ve found them and one of the best is simply saying thank you. These are probably the most important two words in any volunteer manager’s vocabulary! You should be saying thank you regularly, rather than once a year during Volunteers Week, so why not start thinking now about how you could do this more often?
Say thank you to your volunteers as they leave at the end of the session they are helping with and encourage staff who work with volunteers in your organisation to do the same. After all a thank you doesn’t cost anything and will help the volunteer feel appreciated, and know you value the time they give to help. Some volunteers don’t like a lot of fuss and would be embarrassed, whereas others like to be the centre of attention. You know your volunteers best but if you don’t, ask the person who looks after them when they are there and see what they think. A little research really helps to make the thank you more personal and genuine.
When you read surveys of why volunteers leave, one popular reason is not feeling valued or appreciated. You can easily rectify this with two little words, so get planning and say thank you more often!
Who should say thank you?
We’ve talked about the value of showing appreciation and saying thank you to volunteers, and I think another important thing to consider is who should be saying it! This probably seems an odd thing to say but it’s something you need to think about isn’t it?
- The person who supervises the volunteer on their regular volunteering slots could be saying thank you at the end of the session. If you train other people in how to support and manage volunteers, it would be a good idea to include a short section on how to recognise volunteers’ contributions and the importance of those two little words!
- You as the Volunteer Co-ordinator could be holding an event to recognise the contribution of a group of volunteers.
- For a more formal event what about the Chair or Chief Executive saying thank you? This would add a certain formality to a gathering, but would also hopefully make the volunteer feel important.
- If you are holding a formal event, you could have a V.I.P. taking on the role – maybe a local MP, the Mayor or some local dignitary who supports your project. In Dudley borough, the Mayor takes on the Volunteering Champion role each year as part of their duties and is usually delighted to support and events involving volunteers.
- If the person speaking at an event isn’t you or the person who supervises the volunteers, make sure you give them some background information about what the volunteers do, not just a list of names. This will help to make the whole thing more personal.
Try to tailor the way you say thank you to the volunteer[s]. If they don’t like a fuss, don’t arrange a formal red carpet event or they may well not turn up! You may have to downscale it to coffee and cake to make them feel more comfortable!
How to value volunteers
When you are planning how to recognise and celebrate your volunteers you may have a number of things to consider:
- How many volunteers you have
- When you need to hold the event to ensure as many as possible can attend – there’s no point choosing a Wednesday evening if half the volunteers are at their Zumba class! Checking availability is a sensible step.
- Is it an informal gathering or a more formal occasion?
- Where you will be holding it? Don’t just think about the geographical location, but also about things like parking, access for those who may be less mobile and how big a venue you need.
- Who to invite – if you need someone key to attend such as your Chair, Chief Exec, the Mayor or a local MP, you may need to work the event around their availability.
- Plan a programme for the event – a rough plan of who’s doing what and when is always reassuring and if it’s a more formal event, you may wish to have a printed programme for guests.
- Budget – this is probably the most important thing to consider! If you are a small organisation and don’t have a budget for volunteer recognition and celebration, this may restrict your plans a little. You can do a great event on a shoestring, if you can find a free venue, free certificates from your local Volunteer Centre [we produce them every year for our local groups], get people to bring a contribution towards refreshments/buffet etc.
It’s quality that’s important and a genuine wish to make volunteers feel valued.
How to tell the world [well at least the local area how much you value your volunteers?]
There are lots of ways you can do this and most of them are free!
- Newsletters – have you got an organisational newsletter? This is a great place to tell other staff, volunteers and clients, just how wonderful your volunteers are. Add a photo and you are onto a winner!
- Website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook/other social media – a popular way to share what you think of your volunteers with the world [literally via the World Wide Web] is via your website or social media streams. A winsome photo is a sure fire way to get your good news shared. When I published the photos from Dudley Volunteer Awards in October 2017, I had over 6000 views of the photos in 48 hours on the dva17.wordpress.com blog! If you aren’t au-fait with social media, why not attend a free local ‘Write here, write now’ session run by friendly staff from Dudley CVS, who will be able to support you to tell your story and get to grips with a variety of media platforms.
- Local media – newspapers, radio and TV – are a great way to show your pride in your volunteer[s]. Don’t forget to tell them why your volunteer[s] deserve recognition and hopefully this will also help raise the profile of your project or organisation. Black Country Radio is a local community radio station and always looking for guests for their shows, so why not get in touch?
- Awards – Dudley Volunteer Awards are an annual event held alongside Dudley CVS’s Annual General Meeting. Local volunteers [both individuals and groups] can be nominated and recognised at this high profile celebration. The winners are chosen by a panel made up of the Mayor, local decision makers, voluntary sector reps and our Chairman. Nominations for Dudley Volunteer Awards open in June each year and everyone nominated for the awards is invited along to the Dudley Volunteer Awards celebration in October. You can nominate now by visiting this year’s Awards blog https://dva2018.wordpress.com/ and clicking on the Nominate There are also the Mayor’s Civic Awards, which are another annual award scheme.
- Queens Award – if you want to nominate a group of volunteers, why not consider this award? It’s a prestigious award and equivalent to an MBE for voluntary groups and charities. You can find out more by visiting the Queens Award website or by contacting Eileen at Dudley CVS Volunteer Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org